Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Google On the Move

Google has been quietly spending $100M purchasing dark fiber connecting major metropolitan areas in the United States and the rumor is they will be building a free WiFi network. Take a look at https://wifi.google.com/download.html where Google has been offering a Google Secure Access application. When installed this application looks for Google access points that allow the user to securely access the Internet. According to the FAQ on the site Google Secure Access is a new product that is only available at certain locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. This, in combination with a possible Sun StarOffice collaboration (Google has hired Joerg Heilig, Sun’s former StarOffice project manager), Gmail, photo management, instant messaging and rumors of a Google desktop will make for some interesting times.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Student Options

Posted on: Tue, 16 Aug 2005 12:17:32 -0400  by: G. Snyder

The recent London bombings have opened many eyes to the potential level of surveillance we may find ourselves under in this country. According to the UK Financial Times, Britain now has in operation over 4 million CCTV cameras! These cameras do not appear to have had much of an effect on stopping terrorism but have helped considerably in the identification of terrorists after attacks. Research continues in the development of surveillance cameras, face-recognition software, ID cards, phone monitoring systems, chemical sensors, RF ID and other anti-terrorism technologies.

For example:
  • ObjectVideo in Reston, Virginia, has developed software that detects unusual video patterns such as abandoned bags or suspicious movement. Systems using this software are currently being used in military bases in the United States, Europe and Asia.
  • Nexidia, a voice recognition software company in Georgia, is developing speech recognition software that filters thousands of hours of recorded conversations looking for specific key words. Gartner says $140 million worldwide was spent on security based speech recognition software in 2004.
Most surveillance is currently done by monitoring mobile telephone conversations and the fear is, with terrorists knowing this, communications will go back to age old mouth-to-ear-to-mouth methods, leaving authorities in the dark. Other methods need to be developed that identify terrorists before they attack. Catherine Yang, and Kerry Capell in London and Otis Port in New York have an interesting article in the August 8, 2005 edition of Business Week. In the article they discuss several developing identification methods including DNA, saliva, body odor, breath, video gait recognition and RFID identification.

As long as we are under some level of threat many will not object to a rapidly ramping level of surveillance (we won’t get into civil liberties here but it is a serious concern we probably all have thought about). As it stands right now development in this area will continue will continue at a swift pace.

Much of work done in these emerging fields requires a cross disciplinary background at a level higher than an AS degree. It is important we give our Community College grads the option of moving in different directions whether it be directly to work with a two year degree or on to a four year program with all 2-year degree courses accepted.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Tapping Our Potential - An Industry Challenge

Posted on: Mon, 08 Aug 2005 09:17:51 -0400  by: G. Snyder

On July 27 the following top business and technology associations called for doubling the number of math, science, technology and engineering graduates by 2015:
  • AeA
  • Business-Higher Education Forum
  • Business Roundtable
  • Council on Competitiveness
  • Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP)
  • Information Technology Association of America (ITAA)
  • Information Technology Industry Council
  • Minority Business RoundTable
  • National Association of Manufacturers
  • Semiconductor Industry Association
  • Software and Information Industry Association
  • TechNet
  • Telecommunications Industry Association
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
This group released a report entitled, "Tapping America's Potential (TAP): the Education for Innovation Initiative" that can be found at: http://www.technet.org/resources/TAP.pdf

The report focuses on five areas to increase number of bachelor's degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics:

1. Build public support for making improvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics performance a national priority.

2. Motivate U.S. students and adults, using a variety of incentives, to study and enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers, with a special effort geared to those in currently underrepresented groups.

3. Upgrade K-12 mathematics and science teaching to foster higher student achievement, including differentiated pay scales for mathematics and science teachers.

4. Reform visa and immigration policies to enable the United States to attract and retain the best and brightest science, technology, math and engineering students from around the world to study for advanced degrees and stay to work in the United States.

5. Boost and sustain funding for basic research, especially in the physical sciences and engineering.
Most of us have seen the stats - here are a few examples pulled from the report:

- Although U.S. fourth graders score well against international competition, they fall near the bottom or dead last by 12th grade in mathematics and science, respectively.
- By 2010, if current trends continue, more than 90 percent of all scientists and engineers in the world will be living in Asia.
- The percentage of students in the U.S. planning to pursue engineering degrees declined by one-third between 1992 and 2002.

Funding for basic research in the physical sciences as a percentage of the gross domestic product has declined by half since 1970.

We are being clobbered in science, technology, engineering and math achievement by the rest of the world and should make us realize how critical our academic work is for our country. The 18 page report (including endnotes) is worth a careful read.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Are We There Yet?

Posted on: Mon, 01 Aug 2005 09:03:36 -0400  by: G. Snyder

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics has released some very interesting statistics in this year's second quarter report. According to the report the IT workforce is just about back to where it was during the summer of 2001.
In 2001 3.46 million people in the U.S. defined themselves as IT professionals and in the second quarter of this year 3.43 million people defined themselves as IT professionals. This is the highest number of employed IT professionals since 2001 and is up 128,000 from the same quarter last year.
Where is the growth since 2001?
  • IS managers have increased 70,000 to 340,000
  • Computer software engineers have increased 87,000 to 736,000
  • Database admins have increased 27,000 to 195,000
  • Computer systems admins have increased 21,000 to 195,000
Where is the loss since 2001?
  • Programmers have declined by 180,000 to 558,000
  • Computer scientists and analysts have declined 38,000 to 777,000
  • Computer support specialists have declined 8,000 to 349,000
  • Network systems and data communications analysts have declined 10,000 to 346,000
Annualized unemployment rates for this same quarter are down to 3.4% compared to 5.2% during the same quarter last year.

Interesting information!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Mobile Wallet?

Posted on: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 09:23:20 -0400  by: G. Snyder

Many of us have cell phones with built in email capabilities, organizers and cameras and mp3 players. The voice cell phone industry is rapidly becoming commoditized and providers must continue to integrate new services to remain profitable.

The next application to hit the United States and currently hot in Japan, will be the use of cell phones as debit cards. Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo is taking a 34% stake in Japan's number two credit card issuer Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and is in negotiations with the top issuer JCB International.
Since last July, DoCoMo has sold over 3 million handsets with FeliCa chips that have built in transmitters and send a signal when the phone is placed near a sensor. The company is projecting sales of 10 million handsets by March 2006.

The technology, developed with Sony uses a 13.56 MHz carrier frequency and a transfer speed of 212 Kbps that currently lets Japanese users securely purchase (in a debit card arrangement) from vending machines, buy groceries, pay cover charges in clubs, go to cinemas and pass through turnstiles to board commuter trains. The credit card infrastructure build out (store sensors, etc) is in progress in Japan.
In the United States carriers are very interested - it is estimated between 10 and 20 million people in the U.S. do not have bank accounts but have cell phones.

You can get more info following these links:

Felica Technology


Friday, June 10, 2005

In Memory of Mark Anthony Wildermuth

The last two weeks have been sad ones for those of us who knew Mark Wildermuth from Midlands Technical College in Columbia, SC. Mark had a bad motorcycle accident two weekends ago and passed away Monday, June 6.

Mark had quite a life in his 36 years. Many of us did not know he graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, in 1991. At West Point, he was Brigade boxing champion in his weight class, competed on the Army's intercollegiate boxing team and was Sandhurst military training company captain. After West Point he had a well-decorated Army career, rising to the rank of Major, serving in Korea and in several stateside posts. He was Ranger, Airborne and Expert Infantryman qualified.

I first met Mark five years ago when he started at Midlands and was working to create a Telecommunications degree program. In September 2001 Midlands, with Mark as PI, received a grant from the NSF to adapt and implement the NCTT telecommunications education program and our formal relationship was launched. Mark and others including Keith Quigley worked hard to build an exceptional program and over the grant adapted the NCTT curriculum to include a pre-telecommunications technologies component delivered by secondary teachers to local SC high schools. Laboratories were designed to house the appropriate equipment, and Midlands ensured the ongoing operation and continued support for the work. In addition to articulated course work in telecommunications in local high schools, the project facilitated the professional growth and development of college and high school instructors as well as recruiting, retaining, graduating, and placing students in good jobs.

Two years ago, with Mark's leadership, Midlands became one of the original NCTT Regional Partners. Mark was an active participant in the NCTT group, always willing to share his technical and leadership skills. He also like to have fun and could always get us laughing. Marks work can be found at: http://www.midlandstech.edu/telecommunications/default.html. A wonderful person who I will miss greatly.

Midlands Technical College has established a scholarship in his memory. If you wish to contribute, send an email to me at: gsnyder@stcc.edu

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

MIT Media Labs $100 Laptop

MIT Media Labs wants to produce $100 laptops. Media Lab team members Nicholas Negroponte, Seymour Papert and Joseph Jacobson have a vision of "one laptop per child", and plan to provide 100 million to 200 million laptops to school children in the developing world by the end of 2006. Google and AMD have committed $2 million each to the project and MIT is also working with Samsung, Motorola and News Corporation on this project.
Specs include a 500 MHZ processor, wind-up power, a 12 inch flat rear-projection color screen, Linux and OpenOffice software. Devices will be Wi-Fi and 3G-enabled with lots of USB ports. The laptops will use flash memory (no hard drives) and will not be hooked up via a conventional local area networks. The laptops will use Wi-Fi mesh networks, where one laptop will act as the print server, one the DVD player, and another the mass storage device, etc.
The first working prototype is projected to be ready by September 1 with limited distribution by the end of the year.
See http://laptop.media.mit.edu/ for more details.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Tor - The Onion Router

Lately Iíve been hearing a lot about Tor (The Onion Router). Tor is an anonymous Internet communication system initially designed and developed as part of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Onion Routing program with support from ONR and DARPA. Tor anonymizes web communications including browsing, publishing, instant messaging, IRC and SSH and also provides a platform on which software developers can build new applications with built-in anonymity, safety, and privacy features.
Tor uses a distributed group of network of servers, called onion routers that allow data packets to take a random pathway through a series of Tor servers on the web. These servers anonymously pass traffic between each other so network traffic analysis cannot tell where the data came from or where it's going.
Tor is distributed as free software and could be an interesting student project. Downloads, overviews, links and lots of good Tor information can be found at the website and the source of this blog: http://tor.eff.org/

Saturday, May 7, 2005

MentorLinks Deadline June 10, 2005

This is my first blog entry. This blog will be a place to post announcements, give technical updates and keep you posted on what NCTT is up to.
This week I wanted to make you aware of a grant opportunity offered by The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) developed with the support of the National Science Foundation. The program is called MentorLinks and an application can be found at: http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ResourceCenter/Projects_Partnerships/Current/AdvancedTechnologicalEducation/MentorlinksRFPhi.pdf
MentorLinks is designed for community colleges that could benefit from technical assistance and networking opportunities to improve undergraduate education that prepares technicians in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. AACC is requesting proposals from colleges interested in working with acommunity college mentor who has successfully planned and implemented amajor change in a program in a high-technology field. This grant is primarily aprofessional development and technical assistance program, with emphasis on a mentoring relationship.
Although not directly involved as a mentor or mentee, I did have the chance to work with mentor (and NCTT Regional Partner) Midlands Technical College (http://www.mid.tec.sc.us/) and mentee Chaffey College (http://www.chaffey.edu/) in 2000. The experience was a very positive one for both schools.
Grant awards will be made for a total of $15,000 for the two-year grant period (October 1, 2005 ñ September 30, 2007) and the application is simple to fill out. Deadline is June 10, 2005 with arrival at AACC by 5:00 p.m. (EST).